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MDS Initiative Closing Knowledge Gap, Improving Patient Outcomes

Thursday, March 6, 2014

An innovative, new educational curriculum is helping to close knowledge gaps to improve the diagnosis and treatment of Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), a group of complex, and often deadly blood disorders.

“MDS should not be diagnosed in isolation,” says Zeba Niazi Singh, MD, FASCP, Chair of ASCP’s MDS Education Committee. “Clear communication and collaboration between the hematopathologists, cytogeneticists, and oncologists is required for accurate diagnosis, prognostication, and to determine the best therapeutic plan for the patient.”

“The analysis of the assessment data shows that we clearly hit on an unmet need among our members, in clinical knowledge-gaps related to MDS.”
— Zeba Niazi Singh, MD, FASCP
“With the rapid advances in science, emerging technologies, and novel therapies, keeping up with the current literature can be challenging for the healthcare providers who are hard-pressed for time. ASCP is committed to ensuring that the pathologists and the medical laboratory community is equipped with and remains abreast with the current knowledge in this field in order to provide the highest quality care and treatment to MDS patients. ”

During the past year, 2,300 pathologists and medical laboratory professionals participated in a variety of educational sessions on MDS developed and implemented by ASCP in partnership with The France Foundation.

The curriculum, “The Diagnosis, Classification, and Clinical Care of MDS (DC3-MDS),” was designed to facilitate communication among the pathologists, cytogeneticist, hematologists, and oncologists—all members of the multidisciplinary medical team involved in the diagnosis and management of patients with MDS.

Besides being a challenge to diagnose, there is a high burden of morbidity and mortality associated with MDS; transformation to acute leukemia occurs in about one third of patients with MDS. Early diagnosis and treatment can extend the life of some MDS patients by several years.

The curriculum of the DC3-MDS symposium included a live educational session with a webinar broadcast around the globe during the ASCP 2013 Annual Meeting, in addition to online, multimedia, interactive MDS clinical case studies, a performance support page directing learners to additional resources, and CHECKPATH—ASCP’s longstanding and respected assessment program. The CHECKPATH module includes 10 separate MDS-diagnostic cases targeting different aspects of the disease and its diagnosis.

“The approach in including various members of the multidisciplinary team each presenting their perspective on how they diagnose and treat MDS patients is what made the Annual Meeting forum on MDS so attractive,” Dr. Singh says.

The ASCP 2013 Annual Meeting was the first time that the Society presented a live session that was simultaneously broadcast around the globe. Participation in this first-ever event was exceptionally high. According to preliminary results of an ASCP assessment in January 2014, 180 participants say they are implementing what they have learned at this session in their medical practice. Another 2,000 individuals have accessed ASCP’s online educational resources on MDS.

“The analysis of the assessment data shows that we clearly hit on an unmet need among our members, in clinical knowledge-gaps related to MDS,” says Dr. Singh. “Going forward, we envision expanding this multidisciplinary approach to education-model to through regional pathology groups throughout the country.”

The MDS curriculum initiative has been funded by an independent education grant from the Celgene Corporation For more resources about MDS, click here. Plan to attend a session during ASCP 2014 Tampa Bay, from Oct. 8–11, titled “Pathologists’ Role in the Workup of Myeloproliferative Neoplasms, Myelodysplastic Syndromes and Overlap Entities (MPN, MDS, and MPN/MDS),” led by Mehdi Nassiri, MD, FASCP, and Magdalena Czader, MD, PhD, FASCP.